OK i’ll admit it right off the bat, I was a little confused by the three most recent signings management made for the AHL Marlies team (and one should stress that these were definitely AHL signings). I am sure there are plenty of factors that go into each signing, that as fans we will never be privy to (and in all honesty we shouldn’t be) but given who was seemingly going out the door and who was coming in, I thought a little comparison was in order.
Moving out – Matt Lashoff (D) – 26, 6’2″, 205lbs, Round 1, 22# 2005 draft, Salary 2011-12 – $250,000*
Moving In – Mike Kostka (D) – 27, 6’1″, 210lbs, undrafted, 2012-13, Salary $250,000*
Although a little older, Etobicoke, Ontario native Kostka appears (at least statisticly) to have more offensive flair than the defensively minded Lashoff, although to his detriment Lashoff was hurt for the majority of this past year coming back from rehab just in time to join the Marlies for the Calder Cup push. He has had a couple cups of coffee up in the bigs over the last couple of years and at least most recently with the Leafs played admirably. I still hold to the belief that defensive defensemen take longer to develop and was surprised to see the Leafs go with Kostka over him, especially given the number of offensive defensemen we appear to have in the minors with the likes of Finn, Blacker and now Reilly. Hopefully with the Schenn move and Holzer moving up to the Leafs they can still find room for Lashoff but I am curious to watch Kostka in action.
Moving out – Mike Zigomanis (C) – 31, 6’0″, 200lbs, Round 2, 46# 2001 draft, Salary 2011-12 – $300,000*
Moving in – Keith Aucoin (C) – 34, 5’9″, 187lbs, undrafted, Salary 2012-13 – $350,000*
Zigomanis was a faceoff wizard and put up respectible numbers last year for the Marlies although I was originally a little upset seeing Aucoin signed for what appeared to be in favor of him. It was assumed that his expertise would be invaluable to the continued growth of other young centers in the system like Kadri, Colbourne etc. but as always you never know what was going on behind the scene’s and perhaps that is what Aucoin has been brought in to do. This also affords Zigomanis the opportunity to fight for an NHL roster spot, something a fair number of fans seemingly thought he deserved. Aucoin was also a decent call-up for Washington last year and as the cap hits are identical it appears to be a bit of a wash.
Moving out – Juraj Mikus (D) – 23, 6’4″, 210lbs, Round 5, 134# 2007 draft, Salary 2011-12 – $65,000*
Moving In – Dylan Yeo (D) – 27, 5’11”, 210lbs, undrafted, 2012-13, Salary $unknown*
Juraj Mikus it was recently reported by a Czech publication is returning to Europe to play for HC Lev of the KHL. He appeared to be a decent D man, after three years with the Marlies, playing well in his first year with Carl Gunnarsson ending last year with a high +/-, scoring big goals and blocking some key shots however his offensive contributions were down year after year. Dylan Yeo on the otherhand, although older, is a saltwart defensemen in the ‘A’, posting numbers that easily replace Mikus with a more veteran presence on the Marlies blueline. Again I would consider this to be a pretty even replacement.
All in all it seems like Aucoin, Kostka and Yeo are slight upgrades over Zigomanis, Lashoff and Mikus but its difficult to just say goodbye to players you spent the last two years rooting for. Business has a way of sucking like that sometimes but I definitely wish those players all the very best in the next stage of their career.
The young bucks definitely need leaders in the dressing room and those that have the experience to lead by example but you have to wonder that if perhaps at least at the C position that the Leafs could have considered bringing in the likes Charles Sarault for bottom six duties and moving everyone up one on the depth chart. Lets face it, you have Dallas Eakins in the room and that should be leader enough! Food for thought.